Appearing together on the red carpet, there could hardly be a more perfect couple than Tess Daly and Vernon Kay.
The photogenic TV couple have it all – or at least that’s how it seems to the outside world…
Married for 16 years, with two daughters and a country mansion, they have even maintained their enviable figures despite the passing years.
But what lay behind the smiles as they posed for the cameras at the BAFTAs?
Leading body language expert Judi James tells Woman Tess and Vernon come across as “rigid and lacking in what we call ‘Relationship Narrative'”.
“There are almost no tie-signs openly visible – those little glances, grins and touches,” she says. “And though they are smiling, their grins do look rather fixed.”
Whatever may have gone on that night, it was a rare joint appearance for a couple who have weathered their share of storms since tying the knot in 2003.
A gilded cage?
On the face of it they couldn’t ask for more from life. Tess has one of the most coveted presenting gigs in television on Strictly Come Dancing, and she shares a picture-perfect home with Vernon and their girls Phoebe, 14, and Amber, nine, in Buckinghamshire.
With their own private swimming pool and a menagerie of pets (they even have two Shetland ponies), the couple often post images of their gilded life on social media.
“If it looks too good to be true of course it isn’t quite like that,” a long-standing friend tells us. “Tess and Vernon have the same ups and downs as any couple.
“Tess is ambitious but dedicated to her family, and she definitely doesn’t suffer fools gladly. But Vernon is prone to behaving like a fool, as he’s shown in the most public way possible.”
Tess was devastated when, back in 2010, Vernon was caught up in a sexting scandal. The tabloids revealed he had been exchanging raunchy messages with Rhian Sugden, a busty glamour model 17 years Tess’ junior, plus three other women.
The scandal blew up again in 2016 when it emerged Vernon was back in touch with Rhian, but Tess forgave all when he said the messages were taken ‘out of context’.
According to Judi James, however, the signs are there that they aren’t out of the woods yet – especially when compared to Tess’ warm relationship with Strictly co-host and great mate Claudia Winkleman.
“For Tess, her body language with Vernon is a world away from the fun and way less formal pose she performs with Claudia,” says Judi. “Here she leans in and relaxes, with a much more congruent-looking smile.”
For those who have known the couple throughout their 18-year relationship, concerns were always there about their very different characters.
Tess will turn 50 in April, and while Vernon is understood to be organising a big celebration, he will celebrate his 45th birthday just a day later, so is eager not to be left out.
“Those are their mathematical ages – in terms of mental age Tess is at least a generation older,” adds the pal.
“Tess does yoga and meditates every day – she’s even got the girls doing it. And when it’s Strictly season she is ridiculously busy, so the mindfulness really helps her stay grounded.
“But Vernon is still a big kid who sits there watching the snooker and playing ‘innuendo bingo’. It’s like he’s still stuck in one of those lads’ magazines from the 1990s.
“Back in the day Tess used to find it funny. Now she just rolls her eyes. Of course she loves him but there might be a big part of her who just wishes he would grow up at last.”
With Vernon deep into planning Tess’ 50th birthday extravaganza, there is every reason to expect the spectacular. Whether it will be enough to loosen up their ‘rigid’ body language, however, remains to be seen.